National Museum of Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark

The National Museum of Denmark (Nationalmuseet) is Denmark’s largest museum of cultural history, comprising the histories of Danish and foreign cultures, alike. The museum's main domicile is located a short distance from Strøget. It contains exhibits from around the world, from Greenland to South America.

The museum has a number of national commitments, particularly within the following key areas: archaeology, ethnology,numismatics, ethnography, natural science, conservation, communication, building antiquarian activities in connection with the churches of Denmark as well as the handling of the Danefæ (the National Treasures).

The museum covers 14,000 years of Danish history, from the reindeer-hunters of the Ice Age, Vikings and works of art created in praise of God in the Middle Ages, when the church played a huge role in Danish life. Danish coins from Viking times to the present and coins from ancientRome and Greece, as well as examples of the coinage and currencies of other cultures are exhibited also. Furthermore the National Museum keeps Denmark’s largest and most varied collection of objects from the ancient cultures of Greece and Italy, the Near East and Egypt. For example, it holds a collection of objects that were retrieved during the Danish excavation of Tell Shemshara in Iraq in 1957. In addition to this, there are exhibits about who the Danish people are and were, stories of everyday life and special occasions, stories of the Danish state and nation, but most of all stories of different people’s lives in Denmark from 1560 to 2000.

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Category: Museums in Denmark

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4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Robert Prol (4 months ago)
Wonderful museum with lots of ideas for us Danish Modern lovers. We really enjoyed our time in this museum. It's well laid out, and the exhibits are nicely organized. The food was good in the cafeteria.
Thomas Just Sørensen (5 months ago)
Wonderful museum, in particular worth a visit if you have kids. The children's museum is one of a kind. Be prepared to stay for hours, bring plenty of water, and dress the small ones in layers. They will exhaust themselves if you let them. The rest of the museum is worth a visit. In particular the areas on Denmark.
Johan Møller (5 months ago)
Amazing exhibition. The best I have seen from the national museum. Engaging, interesting and beautifully executed. Thanks to the danish designer Jim Lyngvild and the new management of the museum. There are tons of people here and everyone seems excited and blown away. I hope the rest of the danish museums will be inspired from this. This is the way you get more people into the museums. Educate, Excite and Engage ...
Socratis S. (5 months ago)
Its one of the most detailed Museum I've ever been. You get a well rounded idea of life from even before bronze age till now . Of course priorities Danish history as a whole but you can also find artifacts from other places of the world such as the Mediterranean .A must if you travel for knowledge of history
Andreas Offenhäuser (6 months ago)
Great place to get a very wide range of Denmark's history. From stone age to latest pop culture. Exhibitions are explained in Danish and English. Especially the 'secret' interactive events placed throughout the museum make it a special experience. 2-3 hours of you stroll through the entire place.
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Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.